Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Ron Walli (wallira@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL researchers, supercomputer have large roles in DOE projects

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 9, 2007 — Eight projects led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have been awarded more than 27 million hours of computing time at the lab's Center for Computational Sciences.

The awards, announced Monday by the Department of Energy's Office of Science, are part of the 2007 Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program. Of the total 95 million hours of processor time awarded to 45 projects by DOE, 75 million hours will be performed on ORNL's Cray XT4 (Jaguar) and Cray X1E (Phoenix) systems. Argonne, Pacific Northwest and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories are providing additional computing resources.

"I am excited by the number and scope of the research projects won by Oak Ridge," said ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth. "What we are seeing is a marvelous return on the investments DOE made in building one of the world's most powerful computers."

DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach conceived and initiated the INCITE program in 2003. The initiative gives industry a unique opportunity to use the world's most powerful computers to solve problems of great importance.

The computing time allocations include nine industry research projects, more than double the number from 2006. General Atomics, The Boeing Company and Dreamworks Animation, are participating in the program for a second year. General Atomics and Corning will be new users to the ORNL Cray machines at the National Center for Computational Sciences.

Processor or computing time refers to how time is allocated on a supercomputer. A project receiving 1 million hours could run on 2,000 processors for 500 hours, or about 21 days.

With 7.5 million processor hours, Thomas Schulthess of ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division heads a research team that could lead to the development of a variety of better materials. The award is for 7 million hours on Jaguar and 500,000 on Phoenix.

Tony Mezzacappa of the Physics Division led a team that was awarded 7 million processor hours on Jaguar and 300,000 on Phoenix. The project is aimed at gaining a better understanding of core collapse of supernovae. These are the single most important source of elements in the universe and understanding the process of massive stars in death throes is one of the most important mysteries in astrophysics.

A project led by David Dean of the Physics Division, awarded 5 million processor hours on Jaguar, aims to calculate the physical properties of nuclei based on interactions among neutrons and protons. This will help scientists gain a better understanding of nuclear forces and characteristics relevant to nuclear astrophysics and other applications.

Robert Harrison of the Computer Science and Mathematics Division leads a team that was awarded 3 million processor hours on Jaguar and 300,000 on Phoenix. The goal of the project is to improve the efficiency of a desired chemical reaction. Researchers note that catalytic processes are directly involved in the synthesis of 20 percent of all industrial products. Within the DOE mission, catalysts feature prominently in cleaner and more efficient energy production.

Meanwhile, Don Batchelor of the Fusion Energy Division and colleagues were awarded 2 million processor hours on Jaguar to help understand and predict the effects of high-power radio frequency waves on plasma stability. This is of significant scientific and economic importance with a direct benefit to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project.

In a project awarded 1 million processor hours on Jaguar, Patrick Worley of the Computer Science and Mathematics Division leads a team focusing on understanding the performance of the Cray supercomputers and helping to ensure that they are being used as efficiently as possible.

In the final two ORNL projects, Pratul Agarwal of the Computer Science and Mathematics Division heads a team awarded 1 million processor hours on Jaguar to perform next-generation simulations in biology, and Fred Jaeger of the Fusion Energy Division was awarded 500,000 hours on Jaguar to investigate the way the ITER plasma can be heated using high-power radio frequency waves.

In all, 28 projects will be using ORNL's Cray machines. Most of the work will be performed on the Jaguar system. With a peak performance of 119 teraflops and 46 terabytes of memory, Jaguar is among the top 10 systems in the world, according to the Top500 list. Another 5 million-plus hours have been allocated to Phoenix, which is the most powerful vector computer in the United States. The system delivers a peak performance of 18.5 teraflops and is especially adept at running scientific codes.

More information about the INCITE program and individual projects is available at: http://www.sc.doe.gov/ascr/incite/index.html .

UT-Battelle manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.